EAC states urged to step up disease surveillance

By XINHUA

The East African Community (EAC) has urged member states to step up measures to prevent and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases following heavy rains in parts of the region.

The appeal follows reports of an outbreak of yellow fever in Kenya that has caused the deaths of at least three people and information on outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) among livestock in partner states. “The heavy rains and high temperatures have resulted in high numbers of mosquitoes which transmit vector-borne diseases,” said Christophe Bazivamo, the EAC deputy secretary-general in charge of Productive and Social Sectors.

Mr Bazivamo urged the regional states to report such outbreaks to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as required. He cautioned that the outbreaks of RVF might be followed by human cases if adequate measures are not taken in time.

The official called on Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – the EAC states – to step up disease surveillance, control, and vaccination against yellow fever among their citizens.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health reported on March 5 that the government had activated its health emergency response mechanisms following the deaths of three persons attributed to an outbreak of yellow fever in Isiolo County in eastern Kenya.

Subsequently, 15 patients presented with yellow fever symptoms that include headache, fever, jaundice, muscle and joint pains, according to the statement.

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Yellow fever epidemics can occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and where most people have little or no immunity due to a lack of vaccination, said the statement.

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